Downtown Orlando is not just a business center, but also a lively and diverse destination that caters to everyone’s interests, be it cultural or recreational. Whether you’re a resident or a tourist, there are plenty of reasons to explore this dynamic area of Central Florida. In this article, we’ll highlight some of the best things to do in downtown Orlando, such as experiencing its natural beauty, learning about its rich heritage, and enjoying its lively nightlife.
Are you ready to dive into downtown Orlando? Let’s get started!
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Things To Do in Downtown Orlando
Nature and Parks
Orlando is commonly associated with its theme parks, but it also boasts several natural parks to explore. Below are some of the most attractive places to unwind, exercise, or enjoy the beautiful scenery in downtown Orlando.
- Lake Eola Park: This is a well-known park located in the center of downtown Orlando. It boasts a beautiful lake with a fountain, swan-shaped paddle boats, a walking trail, and a playground. You can also enjoy a concert or a play at the Walt Disney Amphitheater, feed swans and other birds, or visit the farmers market on Sundays.
- Harry P. Leu Gardens: This botanical oasis spans 50 acres and boasts a plethora of plant species from all over the globe. Visitors can admire a wide variety of flora such as roses, camellias, orchids, palms, and cycads. Additionally, the historic Leu House Museum, which dates back to the 19th century, is also open for exploration. It tells the story of the families who lived there and provides a fascinating glimpse into the past.
- Blue Swan Boulders: This is an indoor climbing gym that offers 7,000 square feet of bouldering terrain for all skill levels. You can also enjoy yoga classes, climbing classes, private coaching, and more. Blue Swan Boulders is a climbing gym for all climbers of all levels.
History and Culture
Orlando has a rich and diverse history that spans from Native American tribes to African American pioneers to Hispanic immigrants. You can learn more about the city’s past and present at these cultural attractions in downtown Orlando.
- The Orange County Regional History Center: This is a Smithsonian-affiliated museum that showcases thousands of years of Central Florida history through four floors of exhibits. You can see artifacts, photos, videos, and interactive displays that tell the stories of the people and events that shaped the region.
- Wells’ Built Museum: This is a historic hotel that was built in 1926 by Dr. William Monroe Wells, one of Orlando’s first black physicians. It served as a lodging and entertainment venue for African American travelers during the segregation era. Today, it houses a museum that displays memorabilia from the Civil Rights Movement, local black history, and African art.
- CityArts: This is a contemporary art space that features seven galleries with rotating exhibits from local and international artists. You can also see live performances, attend workshops, or rent the venue for your own event. CityArts is located in the historic Rogers-Kiene building, which dates back to 1886 and is the oldest commercial building in Orlando.
Entertainment and Nightlife
Orlando knows how to have fun, especially when the sun goes down. You’ll find plenty of options for entertainment and nightlife in downtown Orlando, from sports and concerts to bars and clubs. Here are some of the best places to enjoy the city’s energy and excitement.
- Amway Center: This is the home of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, as well as a venue for major concerts and events. You can watch your favorite team or artist perform in this state-of-the-art arena, which also features restaurants, bars, and shops.
- Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts: This is the place to see Broadway shows, musicals, comedies, operas, ballets, symphonies, and more. You can enjoy world-class performances in this stunning facility, which has three theaters, an outdoor plaza, and more.
- Wall Street Plaza: This is one of the most popular nightlife destinations in Orlando, featuring seven bars and restaurants with different themes and vibes. You can bar hop, dance, play games, or watch live entertainment on the street or inside the venues. Wall Street Plaza also hosts block parties and special events throughout the year.
Shopping and Dining
Orlando is a shopper’s and foodie’s paradise, with a variety of options for every taste and budget. You’ll find everything from local boutiques and markets to international chains and cuisines in downtown Orlando. Here are some of the best places to shop and dine in the city.
- East End Market: This is a neighborhood market and food hall that showcases some of Orlando’s top food entrepreneurs, artisans, and chefs. You can find fresh produce, baked goods, coffee, cheese, beer, wine, and more. You can also enjoy delicious dishes from various cuisines, such as Asian, American, French, and more.
- Thornton Park District: This is a charming and trendy area that offers a mix of shops, restaurants, bars, and salons. You can browse for clothing, jewelry, art, antiques, and gifts. You can also savor a variety of flavors, from sushi and pizza to burgers and tapas.
- International Drive: This is a major tourist corridor that features hundreds of shops, restaurants, attractions, and hotels. You can shop for souvenirs, clothing, electronics, and more at the Orlando International Premium Outlets, Pointe Orlando, or ICON Park. You can also dine at famous chains or local gems, offering cuisines from around the world.
Map of Things To Do in Downtown Orlando
Downtown Orlando is a vibrant and diverse destination that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for nature and parks, history and culture, entertainment and nightlife, or shopping and dining, you’ll find it all in this guide.
We hope you enjoyed this article and learned something new about downtown Orlando. Now it’s time to plan your visit and experience it for yourself.
See you soon in downtown Orlando!